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Old 06-10-2015, 09:28 AM   #1
rickdarby
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Need Help With Low Tech Nano


I'm looking to build low tech (ideally no tech) nano tank and i have a few questions. I'm a total noob, i only had only really small tank so far (not planted) so i don't know much about this. I did a lot of research lately but you know how the internet it... i can't count on anything.

I'm looking to build a 30x30x30 cm cube (that's around 12x12x12 in inches) that will hold about 25 liters of water (that's about 6-7 gal). I might go for something even a bit smaller, like a 5 gal tank (20 liters or so).

I want to build a planted tank and here's what i don't know.
- can i run it without a filter and if possible without a heater (room temp will always be around 22-26 C (72 - 76 F). The only tech i want to use on it is a light, nothing else.
- if a nano planted tank can run without a filter, what kinds of plants are the best to use (what type of grass, mid and background plants provide the best filtration).
- this can either be a fish tank or a shrimp tank - what fish are best to use for such a small low tech setup and are shrimps harder than fish when it comes to no tech? i mean which one can survive better in a no tech tank?

Thanks,
Rick
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:02 AM   #2
rickdarby
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Oh and two extra questions :
- what kind of light would i need for such a small tank? How many watts or lumens?
- also regarding the light, should i use full spectrum lightning, or regular neons?
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:22 AM   #3
goodbytes
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I know the idea of going filterless is a temptation but it leaves you with no safety net. Unless you're going to use a test kit, like an API Master Test Kit, to consistently monitor water quality to chart how frequently you need to do water changes, then doing without a filter is not advisable and not terribly friendly to your animals. A sponge filter (like this one
Amazon.com : Hydro II Sponge Pro Filter - Up to 20 gallons : Aquarium Filters : Pet Supplies Amazon.com : Hydro II Sponge Pro Filter - Up to 20 gallons : Aquarium Filters : Pet Supplies
) is more than adequate for your tank size and very simple, driven by a simple air pump and air stone. Going without a heater is also doable but it greatly limits the types of fish you can keep unless your house is always kept at a consistent temperature between 76 and 80 degrees roughly. 72-76 is a bit cold and a fluctuating temperature is stressful for fish which makes them more susceptible to disease. Fast growing plants like Water Sprite and other stem plants are advisable to keep in your tank anyway as they do indeed filter the nitrates and keep algae away. Tanks this size with low current are ideal for keeping Bettas--one of the more beautiful and entertaining fish you can keep in a planted tank--but they require good water quality which is difficult to maintain without a filter. Watts per gallon is dead and lumens aren't of any particular use. This thread should help if you're willing to read it carefully:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=184368
You could do a 12" Stingray LED on this tank to keep it lower maintenance. There aren't many other lights that won't absolutely blast such a small tank and turn it into an algae farm.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:30 AM   #4
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There are answers for your questions, but before giving them we need to know more. What is your purpose for this setup?

Do you want to have no tech in your aquarium due to budget constraints? Experimental? Ideology?
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Old 06-10-2015, 01:08 PM   #5
rickdarby
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Thanks for the replies you guys, i really appreciate it.

@goodbytes - yes if i go filterless, i plan on using a water test kit and do water changes as needed. i don't like the idea of using a filter in a nano because it takes up much space and honestly, i like it being very silent - i mean my only concern is the noise (i'm a noise freak, my computer is water cooled - no fans - and soundproofed). if i was to use a filter i would go for something like this :
DENNERLE Nano Clean, Corner Filter, 10-40 Litre: Amazon.co.uk: Pet Supplies DENNERLE Nano Clean, Corner Filter, 10-40 Litre: Amazon.co.uk: Pet Supplies
regarding the heater, i could use one or there's the option of using fish and/or critters that are comfortable in the temperature i constantly have.
regarding the plants - water sprites are really nice, totally love them. i wanted to know if hermiantus cuba (which i also like) can do well in such a nano tank and if there's any other plant - something red/purple, for a bit of contrast - that can do ok in such a tank.
regarding the lightning, i'm not worried about the light intensity but about the actual spectrum : i know plants love blue and red light (and some uv) one thing i don't know if a lamp like this (says there from 6500k - that's really vague)
Aqual Leddy Smart LED Sunny 6 Watt Light Black Aquarium Lighting for Nano or Shrimp Aquariums: Amazon.co.uk: Pet Supplies Aqual Leddy Smart LED Sunny 6 Watt Light Black Aquarium Lighting for Nano or Shrimp Aquariums: Amazon.co.uk: Pet Supplies
will do the job or not - as alternatives, i have a friend who's into electronics and says he can build me a custom led fixture with all the leds i need + intensity control, to get the color and intensity i need - or a neon fixture (although i was not able to find a neon smaller than 30cm - that's the entire width of the tank).
regarding fish/critters - a betta would be really nice but i'm open to anything that can survive in a such a small low maintenance tank (fish, shrimp, snails, crabs, etc)

@dukydaf - the purpose of this low tech aquarium is a) budget (but just a bit) and b) experimentation - i plan on doing a bigger one later on and i want to see how things go with this one - i know that a smaller tank is harder to maintain than a bigger one but right now i only have space and time for a nano (and since it's my first planted setup i would like to start small). and to be honest, at first i just wanted to do a planted tank with no fish (that's where the idea of no filter / heater came) but then i said what the heck, maybe i'll just add a few neons or a few shrimps or a betta...
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Old 06-10-2015, 03:03 PM   #6
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Please don't believe the pet store bs about betta not needing heater, filter, or any swim room [censor] they spew...
Bettas are tropical fish, they need a heater and consistent temperature ideally between 78-82F (25.5-27.7C). I'd recommend inverts if you insist on heater-less tank.
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Old 06-17-2015, 09:40 AM   #7
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A few more questions : i have set up my nano tank (plants only so far). 3-4 days have passed, everything is ok so far - i have no filter, no heater or anything other tech (just a 30W cfl light) - also have no fish or any other kind of fauna.

1) i have set up a regular soil substrate + gravel / sand over it (like in the walstad method) - question is : do i really require CO2 for consistent plant growth or now?
2) i'm planning to add a few shrimps to the tank - will that be a good idea, considering i have no filter or anything else right now?
3) i will get a thermometer today and see if the water temp is ok, so i can add in a betta (if not, i'll get a heater) - question : will 20 liters / 5 gal of water be ok for a betta and a few shrimp?
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:26 PM   #8
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I personally can't speak to anything regarding shrimp. As mentioned clean water and heat are required for Bettas. So a heater is a MUST for any system containing Bettas splendens. Something not mentioned regarding filters in a Walstad set-up. They aren't necessary. I use filters in my Walstad tanks primarily for water movement(vital to a healthy planted system) and as a secondary filter to the ecosystem(plants are the primary filters).

Bump: Yes, CO2 is required to grow ANY plant, lol. The amount of CO2 and intensity of light depends on the specific plant. Got some low-tech system with dwarf sag, Watersprite, java fern, anubias, cryptocoryne and, mosses you won't need to inject CO2.
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:41 PM   #9
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Shrimps are more sensitive than fish to poor water quality, so don't add any to an uncycled tank with no filter unless you plan to be doing water changes twice a day.
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Old 06-17-2015, 06:05 PM   #10
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A 30 watt equivalent or literally 30 watt cfl? if its 30 watt cfl (not equivalent)thats REALLY strong lighting .. I use 13 watt(60 watt equivalent I believe) and get medium-low light at 16-24" above substrate. You would need co2 to keep algae at bay with that strong of a light.
If its a 6-8 watt cfl (30 watt equivalent) you should not need co2 unless you are growing plants that demand it such as UG and high light plants. None of my tanks use co2, but I dose a liquid supplement Seachem Excel in most.. but my soil based crypt tank gets nothing just a light. Incidentally that tank has a Betta but it also is cycled (ammonia:0 nitrite:0 nitrate:10-20) and has a heater.

I apologize if any of this comes off as harsh.. just really trying to emphasize the need to wait on adding fauna.

Have you tested water parameters? typically soil based tanks will leech ammonia for as much as (or longer than) a month. If you will not get a filter you should wait until the tank cycled and nitrates go down on their own before adding any fauna.


5g is great for a betta but BETTAS NEED A HEATER. Temperatures should be 78-82F(25.5-27.7C) for bettas, they are a tropical fish. Keeping them in a cold tank is not fair to the fish, they won't be comfortable or as active, and can be much more prone to disease. Also keeping bettas with shrimp is risky, shrimp are incredibly sensitive to water quality so a filter-less soil based tank especially newly set up is not safe for the,, they are also often seen as a yummy meal by bettas, many fish will eat them. I have an elephant ear betta who I tried keeping ghost shrimp and amano shrimp with (larger freshwater shrimp).. he killed and started eating them before Ir removed them... I do have one betta boy who's very timid/placid and has NEVER flared who gets along fine with 4-?? cherry shrimp (dwarf shrimp species) in his tank.

If you really want to try shrimp with a betta 1: make sure the tank is THICKLY planted including some moss (great place for shrimp to hide and grows their natural micro fauna they feast on), 2: tank is cycled and running with plants for over 3-4 months so micro fauna shrimp forage on constantly has had plenty of time to grow in the tank. Putting shrimp in newly set up, uncycled, or lightly planted tanks with fish usually means death fr the shrimp.

While bettas can tolerate a cycling tank I would not recommended putting one in until the tank has cycled-depending on how much soil/how well capped/ and how densely/fast growing your plants are can mean a little or A LOT of ammonia in the water column which is not good for any fish. Seachem Prime can bind ammonia and nitrite during a cycle (does nothing about nitrates) but you'd have to dose daily, and water change daily if you add a betta. Bettas also greatly appreciate a densely planted tank with plenty of areas to hide and get shaded from the light.

BTW shrimp are sensitive to not only fluctuation in pH, temperature, ANY ammonia or nitrite, and high nitrates.. but also TDS-total dissolved solids in the water. If you do large water changes and rapidly add in new water to a shrimp tank you're likely to kill them from the change in tds at lest (and possibly pH or temp if you did not check the new water). I would not do more than a 25% water change at most (1-% being better) with shrimp in a tank and new water be siphoned back in via an airline tube with the new water's bucket raised above the tank (this is more gentle and slow of a water cahnge for the shrimp instead of just dumping cup fulls of water in quickly). However you cannot get away with a 10-25% water change daily during a tank cycle with any fauna in (again shrimp should not be added during a tank cycle).

So, please have some patience before adding anything.
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Old 06-22-2015, 11:19 AM   #11
rickdarby
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So my tank is set up (will post some pictures later on). Here's what i have :

- 25 liter tank (that's about 6-7 gal)
- about 1 inch of organic soil + another inch or so of sand on top of the soil
- 1 big Anubias Barteri
- a lot of Cabomba Caroliniana
- a few (3-5) Ludwigia
- hermiantus cuba
- fish : 6 neons, 2 xiphos, 2 black mollys
- light : running a 13w or 17w (not fully sure) equivalent cfl
- i also have a filter - guy at the fish store recommended it (and i didn't want to talk much about it and explain what i'm doing - and i thought, if something goes bad i'll have a filter).

Water quality is really fine (well, the filter is running), fish are active, water is clean...

So i have a few questions about what to do next :
1) the baby dwarf fears are constantly eaten by the mollys - i see them all day picking at them, only the mollys. i really want a nice green carpet so i was thinking about buying some Glossostigma elatinoides - will it be ok or will it have the same outcome as the baby dwarf tears? or is there any other carpet plant that you can recommend?
2) is the light ok? do i need more or less?
3) temp in the tank is around 25-26 degrees celsius - is that ok? (no heater or cooler at the moment)
4) i got the filter coz the guy at the fish store said the fish need oxigen and filter has one of them venturi systems on it and it takes oxigen and injects it into the water. Now, the filter itself (identical to this one, just a different brand - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfVoZp7BPCw) is really noisy, blows a lot of bubles and i don't like the noise - so i added the spray bar to it, placed it under water and the noise is gone. question is : is it ok to run it like that? is an air pump really needed (there's no lid on the tank) - the filter runs as an air pump as well.
5) i was planning to add a few more critters to the tank : a few snails (MTS), some catfish (otto) and yes, a few shrimp. question : will the tank be too crowded? will the shrimp be ok with the other species (guy at fish store told me the molly or xipho could eat the shrimp)? what else should i take into consideration?
6) anything i need to know regarding cycling the tank?

Also i use no ferts, no extra CO2 (i found Easy Life Easycarbo - an easy to use solution, might try it) and no water conditioners or anything.

Any other tips / hints would be appreciated - considering a complete noob when it comes to planted tanks (and tanks in general).

Last edited by rickdarby; 06-22-2015 at 11:54 AM.. Reason: Forgot to add something
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Old 06-22-2015, 11:38 AM   #12
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And here is one image of my tank (quality is not that good). The 3-4 inches in the front have no plants (apart from the dwarf baby tear - which you can see on the left side - or whatever remains of it) and the whole background is full of plants.
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Old 06-22-2015, 02:51 PM   #13
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I see what looks like purple waffle (Hemigraphis 'Exotica') front left and far right. It is NOT a true aquatic plant and will die in your tank. Pull it up and use it as a riparium plant (roots in water, leaves above water). I have 2 on my riparium and they love it! Supper long roots under water and nice leaves above.
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Old 06-22-2015, 07:20 PM   #14
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Damn, i just fell for it. I saw them at my lfs in a tank, deep underwater so i thought they'll be ok, guy there told me "all of them are plants for aquariums". But you're right, they're purple waffles. What i was thinking about doing is to somehow plant them (just like anubias, with some fish line or something) on top of that big stone on the left - this was the roots would be under water but 85-90% of the leaves would be out? Would that work? And would the light source being too close cause a problem (i'm thinking about too much heat)?

And regarding the what critters should i get to take care of the excess food and waste and all that? snails? shrimp? catfish? which one's better or should i get a few of each?
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Old 06-22-2015, 07:42 PM   #15
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Try to situate the purple waffle so all leaves are above water. If some leaves are still below water cut them off at the base of the stem, they're just rot under water and raise ammonia/nitrates. I'm not sure about heat from the light, my purple waffles are at a 1' diagonal form their light so not very close. Do not add shrimp so soon after setting up a tank, they do not tolerate uncycled tank and need an aged tank (sevearl months planted and cycled) to grow their natural food. I would not recommend dwarf shrimp like cherry shrimp as your fish will eat them, don't know if they'd also go after ghost and amano shrimp but those two larger shrimp are known to jump if:you have poor water quality, they feel neatened by predators and not enough hiding places are provided, you don't have enough natural food in the tank for them. If you transfer them from bag to tank with a fish net cup your hand over the net-they can jump out of there too. I think You're too over stocked right now, or I'd recommend pygmy cory as left over food eaters (not an algae eater) but they a shoal of 6 and a cycled tank.
lets see if this link works:
http://aqadvisor.com/AqAdvisor.php?A...rchMode=simple

I don't know your filter but AQ advisor already warns that you are overstocked. It also says ALL you fish will outgrow your tank size.

I'd reccmend rturning ALL your fish and cycling the tank with pure ammonia first then getting a nano school/schoal. Pygmy or dwarf cory.. I'm having a brain fart on the names of some other fish that work in that size tank right now.. msjinkzd (forum member and website name) would be helpful though, she knows an sells sevearl nano species of fish (not all fish on her site fit into nano tanks though).
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